Denon X-Space: true 1-box surround sound

Denon announced a surprising break with tradition at its home cinema event in London today.

Eschewing its traditional fare of amps the size of small countries, Denon instead revealed a minimalist 1-box home cinema system, the DHT-FS3. It takes the form of a soundbar - an elongated piano black speaker containing six drive units and seven digital amps, along with Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS decoders.

Denon's X-Space explained

All you need to add is a DVD player, set-top box decoder and / or an (optional) dock for your iPod, and you're done. Setup is simple and there are no trailing cables aside from a power cord, a connection to your TV and another to an off-board active subwoofer for generating deep bass - the sole concession to traditional home cinema setups. So when do those surround-channel effects kick in?

Instead of giving you a nod in the general direction of surround sound as most virtual systems do, the Denon DHT-FS3 uses the company's own X-Space DSP technology to actually deliver it. During the demo we saw and heard today it really did sound as if rear channel effects were coming from behind you - we had to keep checking that Denon wasn't hiding speakers back there.

The sound is truly cinematic for a £700 box with crisp, clear dialogue thanks to two dedicated centre-channel drive units (out of a total of six). Everything else in the surround mix is present and correct too.

However Denon did admit that the DHT-FS3 works better with some surround sound mixes than others, so your mileage may vary. But with modest-sized living rooms or even bedrooms, it looks like Denon DHT-FS3 is a winner. It is available now.